Category: USSR
On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:29 pm | Russia, Ukraine, USSR, Vladimir Putin | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107121083375385-on-the-historical-unity-of-russians-and-ukrainians/

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During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole.

These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time.

But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the “national question” and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

Russia Putin Direct Line
© SPUTNIK / SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV
Russia Putin Direct Line

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, “Let it be the mother of all Russian cities”.

Kiev-Pechora Monastery
© SPUTNIK / SERGEY PYATAKOV
Kiev-Pechora Monastery

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and “boyar” clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)
Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking “the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar”. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv
Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would “detach themselves” from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667.

The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as “Malorossia” (Little Russia).

The name “Ukraine” was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word “okraina” (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word “Ukrainian”, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life.

Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century
© CC0
Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century

This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant.

He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)
© CC0
Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)

Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1872, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context.

These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the “Ukrainian issue” to their own advantage.

I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not.

Such “hypotheses” became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Thalerhof internment camp
© CC0
Thalerhof internment camp

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that “Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation”. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

Theresienstadt concentration camp
Theresienstadt concentration camp

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the “heroes” in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long.

As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that “one government for all of Ukraine” be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania.

The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution.

The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR RODIONOV
The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses

By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A “parade of sovereignties” followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that “the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed”. By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the “localization policy”, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade
© SPUTNIK / LOSKUTOV
Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine “with its ancient motherland, Ukraine” – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external “patrons” prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn “the crimes of the Soviet regime”, listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do.

Poland border
© AP PHOTO / ALIK KEPLICZ
Poland border

At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union
YOUTUBE CAPTURE
detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever “political arithmetic” of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years.

Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the “aggressor state” is.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of “Ukraine is not Russia” was no longer an option. There was a need for the “anti-Russia” concept which we will never accept.

Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans' march in Riga, file photo.
© SPUTNIK / OXANA DZHADAN
Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans’ march in Riga, file photo.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an “anti-Moscow Russia”. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest.

The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new “Maidan” authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the “purification of power”, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on “indigenous peoples” to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo
© AFP 2021 / GENYA SAVILOV
Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.
© SPUTNIK / РИА НОВОСТИ
Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives.

Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.
© SPUTNIK / VALERIY MELNIKOV
Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their “full adherence” to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of “unacceptability”. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the “victim of external aggression” and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats.

And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country.

Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military “development” of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on “indigenous peoples” was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.
© REUTERS / VALENTYN OGIRENKO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.

From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017
© REUTERS / KONSTANTIN CHERNICHKIN
Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as “pro-Russian” agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the “right” patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories.

Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be “anti-Ukraine”. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

‘We Lived With One Goal’: Soviet Veteran on First, Last Days of Great Patriotic War
worker | June 23, 2021 | 8:22 pm | Great Patriotic War, Red Army, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/russia/202106221083205425-we-lived-with-one-goal-soviet-veteran-on-first-last-days-of-great-patriotic-war/

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The news about Nazi Germany’s invasion led to the highest level of patriotism among the Soviet people despite initially causing alarm, Soviet war veteran Col. Nikolai Zaitsev told Sputnik.

“Of course, the news of the invasion [of the Soviet Union] caused consternation. I have felt that all of us somehow were confused: How are we to live now, what are we to do?” Zaitsev, who now lives in New York, said.

Zaitsev said he was a 16-year-old student in a small township near Barnaul in Siberia when Nazi Germany supported by the Axis forces attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.

“The director of the school gathered all our teachers and gave instructions as to who had to go to the military commissariat to enlist in the Army. It was the signal to us, students, and we lashed out there”, he said.

Wounded on first days of Great patriotic War
© SPUTNIK / ZELMA
Wounded on first days of Great patriotic War

Zaitsev recalled that just one day before the invasion, he and his classmates held their high school graduation party.

“I completed 9th grade and along with our schoolmates from the 10th and 11th grades celebrated cheerily in our school”, he said.

The school administration decided to organise a joint picnic in the nearby nice forest the next day and provided a shuttle train for the trip, he noted.

“The next morning, Sunday, 22 June, we gathered together awaiting the train to that wonderful place in the forest. Everybody was ready, but our director was late”, Zaitsev said.

The war veteran explained that those gathered realised the school director was instructed to wait for an important telephone call from the local authorities. The school was some 200 meters away from the railroad station and soon everybody saw him running from the door and screaming: “War! War! War!” Zaitsev said.

People walk on Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on 9 May 1945
© SPUTNIK / ALEKSANDER KRASAVIN
People walk on Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on 9 May 1945

The school director ran to the students and struggling to catch his breath informed them the Hitlerites had treacherously invaded the Soviet Union, are bombing cities and the first battles were taking place near the western border, he noted.

“The director said that we cannot live as usual anymore, a nation-wide mobilisation had been declared and everybody enlisted in the military should be ready for a new life at the front and in the rear,” Zaitsev said.

Skiers Battalions and Missile Preparation

Zaitsev said many of the young men went to the commissariat asking that they be enlisted as volunteer fighters in the so-called skiers battalions.

“We knew about those battalions, which were forming in Siberia. We grew up in the snow and knew how to ski very well”, he said.

However, the commissar told the students the Army will defeat the enemy without them enlisting and they should continue their education, he said.

“This answer did not satisfy us, we continued asking, but none of us was able to stay at the commissariat to process documents that day”, the veteran said.

Despite the given advice, the students decided education was not their major goal then and began helping local collective farms amid the new circumstances, he noted.

“We felt no panic whatsoever. All of us lived with a common goal. The war urged us to think about how to link our personal destiny to the country’s fate and be helpful to the front”, Zaitsev said.

Soviet anti-aircraft gunners
© SPUTNIK / OLEG KNORRING
Soviet anti-aircraft gunners

When a wagon building plant was evacuated from Ukraine, he added, the students began working there and helped produce parts for missiles.

“We had to unload these machines from platforms at the railroad station and drag them to the plant”, Zaitsev said.

Before the conveyor was built, the students and other young persons dragged and grinded 18-kilogram heavy missile noses under the supervision of a few adult engineers.

“We had to prepare 225 noses, half as much than the adult workers did before the evacuation. Our master came to me once and said: ‘You are all great guys. You are doing more than adult men'”, Zaitsev said.

Joining the Army, Engaging in Battle

Zaitsev said he “at last” joined the Soviet Army in August 1942 and nine months later engaged in battle as a member of a mortar regiment.

“There was an extremely difficult situation in 1943 and 1942, but in 1945 as well, when we liberated Hungary”, he said. “Despite the fierce resistance from the Nazis, we took control over the city of Szombathely near the Austrian border and entered Austria”.

Great Patriotic War of 1941-45
© SPUTNIK / ZELMA
Great Patriotic War of 1941-45

His reconnaissance unit received an order on 5 May 1945 to cross the Danube River and meet with US troops in Czechoslovakia, Zaitsev said.

“On the night of May 9, my radio operator warned me about an important government announcement soon”, Zaitsev said. “I took earphones and heard the words that I’d remember forever: ‘Germany has capitulated, we won!'”

Zaitsev said he remembers vividly the emotions, the firing in the air and the “Hurray” shouts once word spread of Nazi Germany’s surrender.

However, the veteran pointed out that his unit was tasked to continue moving forward.

“On 9 May, 1945, we were fraternising with American soldiers near the city of Pisek not far from Prague”, Zaitsev said.

US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers on winning the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
© SPUTNIK / OLGA LANDER
US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers on winning the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Local residents greeted the Soviet and US troops and organised a big rally to celebrate the victory, he added.

“A small girl approached me and looked very serious. My right arm was injured, but I took her on my left hand and came to that meeting with this girl and her parents. I finished the war with this girl in my arms”, Zaitsev concluded.

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia
worker | May 31, 2021 | 7:40 pm | Fascist terrorism, Red Army, USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/525251-mass-grave-soviet-prisoners-voronezh-region/

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia
Volunteers in Russia’s Voronezh Region have discovered a mass grave with the remains of hundreds of Soviet prisoners at the site of a former concentration camp that housed workers building a railway from Berlin to Stalingrad.

That’s according to Mikhail Segodin, the head of Don, a group dedicated to finding the remains of people killed by the Nazi occupiers during World War II.

Mass grave with remains of at least 640 Soviet prisoners of war discovered at former German Nazi concentration camp in Russia

Segodin explained, “640 people have been discovered. We also found four death medallions. Two of them were empty, and two had inserts, one of which is fully legible. We also found a Red Army book, which we will send for examination, and a spoon marked with a surname.”

During World War II, Red Army soldiers were issued with metal medallions, in which they were supposed to put a piece of paper with their personal details on it for identification purposes, in case they were killed.

RT

Prisoners at war at the camp, named DUGAG-191 and located near the village of Lushnikovka, were being used to build a secret railroad called ‘Berlinka’, which was intended to link Germany to Stalingrad, now called Volgograd. The Nazis created at least 17 camps along the route in the Voronezh Region, killing thousands in the process of construction.

The decision to build the railroad was taken after the Battle of Stalingrad, where the German army suffered a crushing defeat. The Nazis were left low on manpower and supplies and desperately needed an improved logistics network to get ammunition and food to the front line.

ALSO ON RT.COMGenocide has no statute of limitations: Russia reopens case into Nazi murder of 214 disabled kidsIn 2010, Segodin’s group Don began to focus on those killed building the railroad. The excavations are also being conducted with the help of the local Investigative Committee.

READ MORE: Russia seeks Canada’s aid in probing 95-yo Nazi death squad member over mass murder of vulnerable children

Speaking to Russian weekly newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, Segodin explained that most of the bones are in poor condition, making it difficult to establish the gender of the remains. According to Segodin, there was also a nearby camp for women and children.

“The only thing we can say for sure is that almost all the dead people were young,” he said.

RT

 

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers
worker | May 25, 2021 | 7:10 pm | USSR | Comments closed

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers

https://www.rt.com/russia/524421-musk-praises-tsiolkovsky-new-knowledge-event/

Elon Musk heaps praise on Soviet space program at Moscow educational conference & reveals his admiration for Russian pioneers
South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk has revealed his admiration for the USSR’s space program and its achievements, telling Russian students he had named some of his company’s conference rooms after Soviet engineers.

Speaking to the New Knowledge event via video link on Friday, the creator of SpaceX noted his reverence for Sergey Korolev and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, two influential 20th-century pioneers.

“[Tsiolkovsky] was amazing. He was truly one of the greatest,” the entrepreneur said. “At SpaceX, we name our conference rooms after the great engineers and scientists of space, and one of our biggest conference rooms is named after Tsiolkovsky. And [another after] Korolev.”

ALSO ON RT.COMRoscosmos names Russian cosmonaut expected to fly to ISS aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon shipMusk also had kind words to say about the Soviet space program as a whole, noting that he admired the achievements of the USSR in the field of rocket science.

The SpaceX creator has long had an interest in Russia, and has previously shown reverence for its accomplishments in the cosmos. Last year, a tweet to the head of Moscow’s space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, went viral after Musk replied in Russian. “We hope for mutually beneficial and prosperous long-term cooperation,” the tech billionaire wrote.

The Twitter post came after Musk’s successful SpaceX launch, when his company sent the Crew Dragon capsule on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). It marked the first time since 2011 that NASA had sent its astronauts into space on a US-made spacecraft.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov would become the first Russian to fly to the ISS in a SpaceX craft.

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Victory’s Test of Time
worker | May 9, 2021 | 8:28 pm | struggle against fascism, Struggle for Peace, struggle for socialism, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202105081082833275-victorys-test-of-time/

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The Russian people have every right to proudly proclaim victory over Nazi Germany and fascism in Europe. Every year, celebrations of Victory Day remain as vibrant as ever. And for good reason.

This weekend marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi defeat on May 9, 1945. Victory parades are held all across Russia with the most splendid display of honor in Moscow’s Red Square.

What is rather telling is how commemorations in the United States and Britain have become relatively dimmed over time. Every year there seems to be less importance given to the anniversary. Why is that? In Western news media, there are even reminder articles about the history of Victory Day and why events are held to mark the occasion.

The contrast with the vibrant and dedicated celebrations in Russia is down to one main fact: it was the Russian people and the Soviet Red Army that were the main victors over the Nazi regime. It is crucial to reiterate that and to never lose sight of the historical truth because Western politicians and media would have us believe otherwise.

The Soviet Union’s allies during World War II, the US and Britain, played a role in defeating Nazi Germany, but that role was secondary in the achievement. Put in another way: essentially, the defeat of the Third Reich would not have happened without the Red Army hammering the eastern front all the way to Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Whereas the Western allies were more auxiliary in the victory.

It was the Hammer and Sickle that flew over the smoldering Reich Chancellery not the Stars and Stripes nor the Union Jack.

The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR GREBNEV
The Banner of Victory on the Reichstag building in Berlin, May 1, 1945.

In short, it was the Soviet people who liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny and fascism. It was the Soviet people who largely brought an end to the infernal death camps.

  • Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.
  • Soviet and Polish Armia Krajowa soldiers in Vilnius, July 1944.
  • Soviet soldiers liberating Auschwitz
  • US soldiers congratulating Soviet officers with the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
  • Czestochowa (Poland) residents meet Soviet soldiers. January 1945. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945
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© SPUTNIK / RIA NOVOSTI
Soviet tank crew during Victory Day Parade on Red Square.

 

In spite of that glorious fact, the American and British political establishments have the arrogant audacity to claim that they were the liberating heroes. Based on this distortion of history, these Western powers claim a false moral authority. 

We saw this arrogance displayed this week in London at the so-called G7 summit. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British counterpart Dominic Raab declared that their countries had established the rules-based international order that followed WWII. As always, the Americans and British imply that they are the moral superiors, which is derived from their false belief or delusion about their role in defeating Nazi Germany.

Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)
© SPUTNIK / EVGENY HALDEI
Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945 marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during WWII (1939-1945)

What is even more reprehensible, the US and Britain use this historical fraud to disparage and demonize Russia. They accuse Russia of “aggression” and other malign conduct when in fact no other two countries have waged as many wars and killed as many people in the 76 years following WWII.

Indeed, it can be argued that the American and British-led NATO military alliance is posing an existential threat to Russia by encircling its borders with increasing forces. Ironically, the last time such a threat was manifest was when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

There are other reasons why Russia’s commemorations of Victory Day are far more important to its people than in the West. The war destroyed the lives of many more Russians – nearly 27 million – and therefore the memory of families and the sacrifices of their loved ones is that much stronger. Each year, there are fewer and fewer war veterans alive to commemorate the anniversary, but in Russia, millions of families carry on the memory with heartfelt devotion. The incomparable suffering of the Russian people is testimony to the fact that they bore the burden of defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Europe from fascism.

The test of time shows clearly who were the primary victors in the worst war that the world has ever seen.

The leaders of nations that claim otherwise are imposters and frauds. Their dimming victory parades over time evince their hijacking of history and the hollowness of their presumed role of “liberators” and champions of “international order” and “virtuous values”. Most damningly, these same people are capable of starting another world war from their arrogant delusions of superiority over Russia.

Which raises disturbing questions about the history of postwar fascism.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR
worker | May 9, 2021 | 8:26 pm | Russia, USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/523304-victory-day-stalin-crimes/

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR

Victory day belongs to the Russian people: Westerners must realize it celebrates destroying the Nazis, not honoring Stalin’s USSR
With tanks rolling through Red Square and jets screaming overhead, Russians are marking Victory Day on Sunday with a colossal parade, 76 years on from the surrender of the Third Reich and the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops.

These celebrations are often portrayed in the West as an effort to rehabilitate the USSR and its wartime leader, Joseph Stalin. In reality though, Moscow is far from eager to rewrite history, and most Russians are more than capable of commemorating the Soviet victory without endorsing Stalinism.

However, as preparations for the anniversary got underway, the Georgian strongman has again been making news. Just a week ago, in the Caucasian town of Dagestanskiye Ogni, a bust in honor of Stalin was erected. Unlike much of his legacy, it was short lived, and local authorities ordered its removal only four days after it was unveiled.

At the same time, the revolutionary’s record has been making waves in other ways. In the eyes of most Russians, the USSR deserves credit for liberating Europe from Nazism. Many people living in other former Eastern Bloc states, however, take a different view on things, and see the Soviets as occupiers. In their opinion, communism and Nazism are reprehensible in equal measure.

ALSO ON RT.COM27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives fighting the Nazis, Westerners comparing USSR to Hitler’s Germany insult their memoryThat historical debate has decidedly political consequences. Attempts to portray the Red Army not as a liberating force but as a brutal occupier serve as a means of pushing modern Russia out of European politics. Russian celebrations of the victory over Germany are portrayed as an endorsement of Stalinist oppression, and therefore as a sign of Russia’s malign character and its supposed ambitions to reassert Moscow’s control from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

In response to this growing campaign, the Russian State Duma began considering legislation last week which, if passed, will forbid people living in the country from comparing the USSR to Nazi Germany. This follows an amendment to the constitution last year stating that, “diminishing of the significance of the people’s achievement in defending the Fatherland is not permitted. Any pronouncement which smears the achievement of our citizens is unconstitutional.”

To opponents of the Kremlin, such acts are proof that the Russian state refuses to accept the crimes committed by the Soviet Union during WWII, such as the massacre of Polish officers at Katyn. This in turn is taken as evidence that Moscow has still not turned its back on Stalinism and its bloody methods.

Add to this the occasional efforts of modern-day Russian communists to put up statues to Stalin, and the result is an accusation that the country is working to legitimize its own government by invoking the memory of the USSR’s most famous leader.

ALSO ON RT.COMRussia celebrates WWII Victory Day with traditional grand military parade in Moscow (FULL VIDEO)For instance, when communists in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk erected a monument to the former Soviet premier in 2019, the Western press responded with a series of articles claiming that the state itself was attempting to “rehabilitate” Stalin. The Washington Post, for instance, published an article claiming that President Vladimir Putin “attempts to position himself” as “Stalin-lite… the Russian president is actively rehabilitating the Soviet dictator’s record, working to paint him as a strong leader who save the world from fascism. The goal is to bolster Putin’s own ‘strongman’ leadership style [sic] in the eyes of ordinary Russians.”

In a similar article, the Guardian declared that “Putin’s rise to power came accompanied by a new version of patriotism relying on ‘heroic’ and ‘bright’ aspects of the Soviet past. An image of Stalin as a strong leader who had ensured victory in the second world war and led a Soviet superpower re-emerged.”

It concluded that, “in Russia, it is obvious to many of us that our country’s return to democracy will be impossible as long as we fail to condemn Stalin and the system he created.”

The reality is rather different. While there is some admiration for the Georgian revolutionary in Russia on account of his wartime leadership, people are also acutely conscious of the negative aspects of his rule. Furthermore, initiatives to “rehabilitate” Stalin come not from the state, but from ordinary citizens, and Moscow’s response has been far from warm.

ALSO ON RT.COMUkrainian Neo-Nazis parade through Odessa on seventh anniversary of post-Maidan massacre in which dozens were burned aliveWe can see this in recent efforts of groups to erect statues to the former leader. In Novosibirsk, communists were unable to obtain permission to erect a statue of Stalin in a public place. In the end, the mayor gave permission only on the condition that it be put up on private land. In Dagestan, as we have already seen, the local government took a new installation down after just four days. Clearly, the authorities do not view such initiatives very positively.

Nor do those same officials attempt to play down the negative side of Stalin’s rule. The “Concept of State Policy on the Immortalization of the Memory of Victims,” confirmed by the Russian government in August 2015, stipulated that, “attempts to justify the repressions by the particular circumstances of the time or generally to deny them as a fact of our history are not permissible.”

In July 2019, the Permanent Commission on Historical Memory of the Council of the President of the Russian Federation issued a statement saying that its members did not “call for the establishment of statues to Stalin on private plots of land to be banned.” However, it noted, “civil servants of all levels must know that it is impermissible to allow state or municipal land or buildings to be used for this purpose. Such acts not only contradict morality and respect for our deceased, innocently suffering predecessors, but also contradict official state policy.”

As for Putin himself, he made his position clear when he attended the opening in October 2017 of the ‘Wall of Grief’, a monument in Moscow dedicated to the victims of communist repression. This is not even the only state-backed monument to this purpose. Others include the Sretensky Monastery, devoted to the ‘new martyrs’ (i.e. Christians killed by the communists), and the Butovo Shooting Range Memorial, located on the site of what was an NKVD execution ground during Stalin’s Great Terror.

ALSO ON RT.COMAdvanced 4th-gen nuclear-powered submarine Kazan joins Russia’s Navy Northern Fleet (VIDEO)In short, the idea that the Russian state is working to rehabilitate Stalin is far from true. Equally false is the idea that commemorating the Soviet victory in WWII is tantamount to celebrating communist repression. By the same token, when Britons celebrate their country’s role in that war, they’re not condoning the crimes of the British Empire. And when they praise Winston Churchill for his wartime leadership, they’re equally not endorsing the more questionable aspects of his personal character and past.

Similarly, Russians are capable of separating the good from the bad in their shared history. Victory over fascism in 1945 came at enormous cost, but was also a huge national achievement. Millions of Russians will choose to mark the anniversary this Sunday, and so they should. Victory Day is theirs, not Stalin’s.

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76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history
worker | April 26, 2021 | 8:10 pm | Red Army, Russia, USSR | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/522144-history-rewriting-nazi-victory/

76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history

76 years on from historic Elbe meeting, Moscow says Russia & US should come together to fight against modern rewriting of history
Russian and American soldiers fought to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II, and it is now the duty of both nations to stop unfair readings of history. That’s according to Sergey Koshelev, Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Washington.

On Sunday, at a ceremony in the US capital commemorating the 76th anniversary of Elbe Day, Koshelev spoke about the alliance of the US and the Soviet Union during the conflict. On April 25, 1945, after fighting the Germans from both East and West, troops from the Red Army met with their American counterparts at the River Elbe, in Saxony. The encounter meant the war in Europe was effectively over, and Adolf Hitler committed suicide five days later.

“We will always pay tribute to the courage of our comrades in arms, honor all those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against the worst evil of the 20th century. We consider any attempts to rewrite history a betrayal,” Koshelev said, as cited by news agency TASS, noting that it is a “common duty” to prevent “unfair readings” of the lessons of World War II.

ALSO ON RT.COMMoscow promises Washington a ‘SERIOUS TALK’ about its V-Day message that omits Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazis“Our countries need to preserve the spirit of the Elbe. The memory of our alliance should help us build a partnership in the fight against the common challenges and threats of the 21st century,” he explained.

One of the ceremony’s participants, American veteran Frank Cohn, told the TASS news agency that he completely supports Koshelev’s position.

“I hope it isn’t rewritten,” he explained. “We met on the Elbe and shook hands. Moreover, we embraced. They tried to buy me some vodka, but I was 19 years old, and I had never tasted vodka.”

Both Moscow and Washington have been accused of revisionism of World War II history in recent years. The most recent serious accusation came last year, when a tweet from the White House claimed that “America and Great Britain had victory over the Nazis,” deliberately omitting the Soviet Union.

The tweet was roundly criticized, and led to the Russian Foreign Ministry promising a “serious talk” with American officials on the “distortion” of history.

“The US officials have found neither the courage nor the desire to … do justice to the indisputable role of the Red Army and of the Soviet people, and to the enormous sacrifices they made in the name of humanity,” its statement said.

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